Redmond has revamped it flagship Internet Explorer (IE) 10 browser to match the style and feel of Windows 8 Metro - a slick UI targeted at tablets and other mobile devices.
Indeed, IE's underlying architecture was extended to provide a fast, fully hardware accelerated browsing engine with strong security and support for HTML5 and other web standards.
"IE10 is designed to make website interaction fast and fluid for touch as well as for heavy mouse and keyboard use. With IE10, websites participate in the Metro style experience in Windows 8, including the Start screen, charms, snap, and more," Microsoft rep Rob Mauceri wrote in a recent blog post.
According to Mauceri, people have become accustomed to a more immersive and less manual browsing experience compared with the desktop. As such, Metro style browsing was designed to offer a full-screen, immersive site experience.
"We've found that many people – even those with the most enthusiastic and intense browsing patterns – prefer Metro style browsing because it's less manual and more focused on what you browse than on how you browse," he explained.
"[That is why] We built IE10's user experience exclusively around all the Metro style design patterns to be fast and fluid for even the most intense everyday browsing."
Nevertheless, the revamped IE includes what Mauceri terms "comprehensive functionality" including:
- Full, independent composition enables responsive, fast and fluid behavior on real websites (including pages with fixed elements, nested scrolling regions, animations, and video).
- Back and forward swipe navigation with preview.
- Double-tap to zoom in on content.
- Fast back and forward navigation controls for mouse.
- Mouse (CTRL+scroll wheel) and keyboard methods for quickly zooming in and out to mirror touch interactions.
- Automatic domain suggestions for faster navigation and less typing
- Share charm support for URLs, snippets, images and selection with Mail and other apps.
- Search charm with visual search suggestions.
- Devices charm for printing, projecting, and playing video to external devices like TVs.
- Plug-in free support: notifications for sites requiring activeX.
- Background notifications for pinned sites and other tile improvements
- Jumplists for pinned sites.
- InPrivate tabs that are easier to open.
- Clean up tabs command, which quickly closes all but current tab.
- Metro style and no-compromise browsing.
"IE10 is fast and fluid for the real web, not just the mobile versions of sites. We made IE super responsive to touch, mouse, and keyboard. The Metro style browser delivers on touch browsing, not just browsing on a touch device," Mauceri confirmed.
"You can feel it in the stick-to-your-finger responsiveness of the touch support for panning and zooming, swiping back and forward for page navigation, and double tapping to zoom in and out of content."
Similarly, context menus and form controls are optimized for touch, with the browser responding fluidly to device orientation (scaling smoothly to landscape and portrait screen layouts) and "snapping" Windows 8 applications next to it. In addition, IE10 improves the traditional experience of browsing the Web with mouse and keyboard - offering support for keyboard shortcuts and and convenient mouse activations for back and forward navigation.
Essentially, says Mauceri, Metro style IE10 takes a different, more modern approach to browsing by putting the focus squarely on websites - rather than all the tab and window management activity that has defined browsing to date.
"You used to have to make a choice between browsing the mobile web on small screens with good touch support, and browsing the full web with good mouse and keyboard support on big screens. The Metro style web experience in IE10 means no compromises.
"You can browse and touch and multitask and print and share with all the power of Windows 8 and your PC. The web with IE10 is more fast and fluid, better connected to your applications, and more secure and private," he added.